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Lung Cancer Symptoms, Prevention and Treatment

What Is Lung Cancer?

Lung Cancer
Lung Cancer

Lung cancer, aka lung carcinoma, is a malignant tumor in the lung that results from an abnormality in the body’s cells. The tumor is formed from the uncontrolled division of these cells. Lung cancer spreads throughout the body quickly early on and is the number one cause of cancer deaths in the United States and worldwide for both men and women. There are two types of lung cancer; small-cell lung cancer and non-small-cell lung cancer.

While lung cancer is treatable, it is often not diagnosed until it is at an advanced stage.
The five-year survival rate for an early stage lung cancer is 54%. However, for those diagnosed with an advanced lung cancer that is considered inoperable, that number drops to 4%.

Lung Cancer Causes

Although long-term smoking (of tobacco) is the number one and principle risk factor of lung cancer, it is not the only cause. There are a small percentage of people that have developed lung cancer without ever having smoked tobacco. Living with a smoker increases your risk of developing lung cancer by nearly 30%.

1. Smoking – Cigarette smoke is full of carcinogens. When you inhale cigarette smoke, you are inhaling these carcinogens and allowing them to enter into your body and lungs. initially, your body can repair any damage this causes. However, over time, with repeated exposure, the damage you have done causes more and more damage that makes the cells become abnormal and eventually develop into cancerous tumors.

2. Second-hand smoke – When you are around someone that is smoking, you are inhaling the same carcinogens as the smoker, just in smaller amounts.

3. Asbestos – Only 4% of lung cancer deaths are a result of asbestos lung cancer.

4. Air pollution – Air pollution is full of cancer-causing substances such as smoke, diesel engine exhaust, dust, metals, and other dangerous substances.

Lung Cancer Prevention

Although not 100% effective, the most effective way to prevent lung cancer is to never smoke, or if you already do, to quit. Because your risk of developing lung cancer increases gradually the longer and more that you smoke, quitting (even after many years of smoking) can greatly reduce your chance of developing lung cancer. In general, basic terms, this means.

In general, basic terms, this means the cancer that causes the most deaths across not only the country, but the world as a whole, can be greatly reduced by not smoking.

Lung Cancer Symptoms

Symptoms do not normally occur in the early stages of lung cancer. They generally occur only once the lung cancer has advanced.

Signs and Symptoms of Lung Cancer Include:

* A new cough that won’t go away
* Changes in a chronic cough (often referred to as smokers cough)
* Coughing up blood or bloody mucus
* Shortness of breath
* Chest pain
* Wheezing
* Hoarseness
* Unexplained weight loss
* Bone pain
* Headache

Lung Cancer Treatment

The treatment for lung cancer can vary depending on several factors including the individual’s overall health, the state of the lung cancer, the type of lung cancer, and other factors. These types of treatment can involve combinations of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted drug therapy, and in some cases newer methods that are still experimental at this time. In some cases, treatment may not be an option.

Types of Lung Cancer Removal Surgery

Wedge resection – Removal of a small section of the lung (including the tumor)
Lobectomy – Removal of one entire lob of a lung
Segmental Resection – Removal of a large portion of a lung
Pneumonectomy – Removal of an entire lung
* As with any surgery, there are risks associated with lung cancer removal surgeries. The most common risks include bleeding, infection, and shortness of breath following the surgery.
**Lymph nodes may be removed during the surgery as well so the surgeon can check them for signs of cancer.

Chemotherapy To Treat Lung Cancer

Chemotherapy uses drugs either intravenously or orally to kill cancer cells. This is generally a combination of drugs given over a series of treatments that can last up to several months.

Chemotherapy treatments are often used following surgery to ensure any cancer cells that may have been left behind are killed.

Chemotherapy can be used prior to surgery in an attempt to shrink the cancer and make it easier to remove.

Radiation Therapy To Treat Lung Cancer

Radiation therapy kills cancer cells with the use of hihg-powered energy beams. The radiation beam is directed at your lung cancer from outside your body or placed inside your body via needles, seeds or catheters.

Radiation therapy can be used following lung cancer surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells.
Radiation therapy can also be used as a first treatment for advanced lung cancers that are inoperable.
Radiation therapy can be used on very small lung cancers in place of surgery.

Targeted Drug Therapy To Treat Lung Cancer
Targeted drug therapy is usually used in combination with chemotherapy ans is a newer cancer treatment. They do not work in all cases of lung cancer and testing will need to be performed to see if these drugs will help you.

Some targeted drug therapy options include 

Afatinib
Bevacizumab
Ceritinib
Crizotinib
Erlotinib
Nivolumab
Ramucirumab

The Stages of Non-Small Lung Cancer

Once you have been diagnosed with lung cancer, your oncologist or doctor will perform tests to determine the stage and severity of the cancer. The tests most commonly used include X-rays, CT scans, bone scans, PET scans, and blood tests.

What Do The Different Stages of Lung Cancer Mean?

Stage I

Stage I lung cancer is an early stage and the cancer is confined to the lung.

Stage II & III

Once the cancer has moved past stage I to stage II or III, the cancer is still pretty much confined to the lung, but has possible spread to the lymph nodes as well.

Stage IV

Once the lung cancer has advanced and reached stage IV, the cancer has spread outside the lung to other parts of the body.

Small-Cell Lung Cancer Tiers

Small-cell lung cancer is not as common as non-small-cell lung cancer. Instead of being broken down into stages, it is broken down into two tiers:

Limited Stage

During limited stage small cell lung cancer, the cancer is confined to the lung and lymph nodes only.

Extensive Stage

During extensive stage small cell lung cancer, the cancer has spread from the lungs to other parts of the body.

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